Yeti coolers are known for their durability and long ice retention, being able to hold ice much longer than a regular cooler. But just how long does ice last in a Yeti cooler and what sort of things affect ice retention?
I personally own a Yeti 45 and have used it as my primary cooler in my campervan and I've also done a variety of ice tests on the Yeti to test it's performance so I've got a good idea of how long it can hold ice for.
Yeti coolers can hold ice for 3-5 days with regular use (half filled with food/drinks etc) or can hold ice for 7-10 days when full of ice in ideal conditions. Smaller Yeti roadies can only hold ice 2-4 days while large Yeti 160 can hold ice over 2 weeks!
How you use your cooler and what conditions it's exposed to will make a huge difference on ice retention, that's why there can be such a huge variance in how long a Yeti cooler can hold ice for.
Ice Retention In a Yeti Cooler: By Size[table id=38 /]
Yeti Cooler 10 Day Ice Test
When I first got my Yeti 45 cooler I decided to do an ice test on it.
I completely filled it with ice and 6 bottles of pre-chilled beer. I kept it in the shade and daily temperatures were around 80°F (26°C).
So it wasn't exposed to extreme heat and the cooler also wasn't exposed to the sun.
I consider these optimal conditions.
My Yeti 45 cooler was able to hold ice for a full 10 days and it even nearly made it 11 days!
You can see the results in the video below:
It really wasn't until day 3 or 4 that you even started seeing some ice melt, but I was definitely surprised it lasted this long.
At day 2 ice had barely even melted at all!
Other people have experienced similar ice retention from their Yeti coolers.
The video below shows a lady who runs trips that can last up to 18 days and uses a much larger Yeti cooler than mine and packs it a lot better than I do.
Check it out:
In the video she claims they still have ice for cocktail drinks on day 15. That's insane amounts of ice retention.
How Long Does Ice Last In a Yeti When You're Using It Every Day?
The ice test above is cool to show how long a Yeti cooler can potentially hold ice, however these are not realistic conditions.
You're unlikely to fill up the cooler 100% with ice and nothing else. If you're going to be putting ice in a Yeti cooler then you're going to be using that cooler.
Well I lived in a van with my kids and used the Yeti cooler as our primary cooler with a Coleman Xtreme as our dry food storage or secondary cooler.
When you're doing something as extreme as living in a van and using a Yeti as your primary fridge you get a feel for how long it can hold ice for with regular usage.
A Yeti cooler can hold ice for 3-5 days with regular usage. This varies depending on how much ice, how much you're opening it as well as how many warm items you're putting in there.
1-2 bags of ice would easily last us 3 days, but we would rarely get more than 5 days from ice. Usually around day 3 or 4 we would drain out the excess water and buy an extra bag of ice to top up the cooler.
What Affects How Long Ice Lasts In a Yeti Cooler?
There are a lot of different things that can affect how long your ice will last in your Yeti cooler.
By taking the time the prepare your cooler properly ahead of time your ice can last significantly longer.
I've written about the 21 best ways to keep ice from melting which has loads of tips and tricks but here are some of the main ones that will affect you Yeti cooler's ability to keep ice.
Pre-Chill Your Cooler
This is the biggest tip I can give you and this is the biggest thing that is going to negatively affect how long most people can keep ice in their Yeti.
When you're not using your cooler the thick, dense insulation can actually absorb a lot of heat from the outside air. This is especially true if you've left your cooler in a hot car or hot garage.
If you then fill up a warm Yeti with ice the heat from the insulation will melt your ice really quickly. This is the #1 reason people complain about their Yeti not being able to hold ice.
Pre-chill your cooler the night before you use it by putting in some frozen water bottles or a sacrificial bag of ice. For even better results use dry ice.
This will make your insulation ice cold so when you load up your cooler the ice won't be used up on the insulation.
This tip alone will extend how long your Yeti can hold ice by DAYS!
Pre-Chill Your Food and Drinks
The same deal with the insulation, if you're putting warm things into your cooler that heat is going to melt your ice and your Yeti won't hold ice as long.
Where possible pre-chill your drinks and food in the fridge or freezer prior to putting them in your cooler.
Obviously you can't always do this (I couldn't do this when living in the van) but where possible this will stop ice from melting.
Use Larger Blocks of Ice
Large blocks of ice last longer than small blocks of ice because they have less surface area exposed to the outside air and the center of the ice block is insulated by the outside of the ice block.
Fill up empty milk jugs or old ice cream buckets and freeze them to create large ice blocks.
Milk jugs and large water bottles are great to freeze because as the ice melts it stays contained in the bottles and it will keep your food dry in your cooler.
Also, as the ice melts you can drink the water so nothing is going to waste.
Don't Have Dead Space
When I did my research to find the absolute best coolers for ice retention I noticed in some ice tests that larger coolers performed worse than smaller coolers.
This only happened when the same amount of ice was used in each cooler.
This meant the larger cooler had a lot of internal air, while the small coolers didn't.
This led to significantly faster ice melt.
You want to avoid dead air when possible by using extra ice to fill up your cooler or using food/drinks.
If you're absolutely stuck for how to fill the space scrunched up newspaper can do the trick or lying a foam mat on top of your items can keep it from being exposed to the rest of the air in the cooler.
Open Your Cooler As Little as Possible
The more you open your cooler the more warm air is going to get in and melt your ice and warm up your food and drinks.
If you want your ice to last longer in your Yeti then only open it when absolutely necessary.